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"Let Them In" - The Poet that inspired the Song

 
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Bob Korkuc



Joined: 15 Apr 2007
Posts: 4
Location: New Hampshire

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 11:53 am    Post subject: "Let Them In" - The Poet that inspired the Song Reply with quote

John's adaptation of the poem "Letter to Saint Peter" in the song "Let Them In" was done with class.

I thought the forum would enjoy learning more about the author of "Letter to Saint Peter", Elma Dean.

This article excerpt appeared in the Sunday Edition of the Oakland Tribune on December 17, 1961, page 2S.

"It was the summer of 1942, and things were not going well for us in the war," said Elma Dean in her quiet voice, "and so many of our sons, some of my friend's sons, were being killed. I was going around with tears in my eyes."

Her tears for the heartbreak of other mothers were crystalized in a poem, "Letter to St. Peter, " and the tiny Oakland housewife suddenly became known around the world. Her sonnet of lament for boys so young to die, and hope that something would make up for what they missed down here, brought her letters from mothers throughout the nation, was inscribed on the wall of an American cemetery in England, was read by a United States senator at another cemetery in Europe, and found its way even into the National Geographic and the Congresssional Record.

"It was a maybe a little sentimental," said the author "and it isn't the best poem I've done, but it was what the public liked the best. I've been in many anthologies--not the vanity kind--but I am happiest about being in Louis Untermeyer's 'Mid-Century Edition of Modern American and British Poetry"-- and it was another poem, one from the New Yorker."

In the process or becoming a poet, winning awards and getting into anthologies, Elma also enjoyed being a wife and mother--and now grandmother. [About her husband's reaction to her poetry,] "I'm afraid he's an admirer of mine," said Elma with a gentle, hazel-eyed smile. "When I showed the St. Peter poem to him, as I always do when I think I've done something any good, he said, "this will make the readers Digest." by Kay Wahl.


Regards,

Bob Korkuc


Last edited by Bob Korkuc on Wed May 09, 2007 10:11 am; edited 3 times in total
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lily



Joined: 11 Mar 2007
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 3:49 pm    Post subject: "Let Them In" Reply with quote

Bob,
Thank you for recognizing and sharing the story of the poem's author. The song "Let Them In" is very moving and poignant on so many levels...it is applicable to all our 'lost' children everywhere even though some may still be right here with us. And it reminds me that those who return from war will be struggling with issues unfathomable to those of us who are here at home, and that they will need to find some sense of peace and comfort of their own. A beautiful poem, beautifully interpreted.
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Bob Korkuc



Joined: 15 Apr 2007
Posts: 4
Location: New Hampshire

PostPosted: Sun Apr 15, 2007 6:10 pm    Post subject: Elma Dean - Letter to Saint Peter Reply with quote

Lily,

Thanks. I have been researching the origin of the poem. I am an author of a soon to be published book by the University of Oklahoma Press called, "Finding a Fallen Hero: The Death of a Ball Turret Gunner."

The hero I found was my Uncle Tony who was killed in World War II on a B-17 Bombing Mission to Germany. He was only 26 years old. He was too young to die.

The beautiful Elma Dean poem is being used in my preface to set the tone.

Regards,

Bob
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lily



Joined: 11 Mar 2007
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Mon Apr 16, 2007 8:59 am    Post subject: "Let them In" Reply with quote

Yes, he was too young...it appears that the average age of those who die in combat is somewhere between 27 and 30, even younger during Vietnam.
I'll look for your book...
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Dr. AIX



Joined: 25 Apr 2007
Posts: 8
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 11:00 am    Post subject: It's still going on... Reply with quote

"Let Them In" and a lot of other of John's songs have a way of telling the story from the human side. Every Friday evening, at the end of the McNeil report on PBS they silently post the names, ages and pictures of the soldiers that have been killed in Iraq...it's incredibly sad to know that these people will never know the potential of their future.

Whether or not you support the position of the adminstration [I do not], the saddness comes to the families, the wives and husbands, the fathers and the children.

"Mercy of the Wheels" from our new DVD sessions never fails to elicit rememberances of my own father [who died of cancer at age 43] and simliar desires to let him know that "I'm doing all right".
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lily



Joined: 11 Mar 2007
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Thu Apr 26, 2007 12:24 pm    Post subject: "Let them In" Reply with quote

I do not support the position of our “leaders” on the war either and find it incredibly sad that so many young men and women who joined the various branches of the armed forces did so as an alternative life choice believing that this would offer them opportunities they would not have enjoyed otherwise and seeing only the “romantic” side of combat. The horrors of war can only be fully realized by those who have had to live through them. They and their families pay the on-going price and this cost cannot be measured. As the parent of three young men in various stages of life’s learning process, I am very aware of how short a life can be but cannot begin to fathom what it must take to justify the loss of a loved one through such cavalier manipulation. I support wholeheartedly each soldier and every soldier’s family and pray that they (and you) will find peace and solace in dealing with being the ones left behind.

On a happier note...thank you for giving us all something to look forward to!
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Bob Korkuc



Joined: 15 Apr 2007
Posts: 4
Location: New Hampshire

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My book called "Finding a Fallen Hero" was just posted on the Oklahoma Press website, despite not yet having the dust cover on the site, it does list background information on the book. I encourage all those who want to read a good story to consider buying the book. Ken Burns, PBS Filmmaker of "The War" wrote that my book was "a riveting story...".

http://www.oupress.com/bookdetail.asp?isbn=978-0-8061-3892-3

Regards,

Bob Korkuc
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